Indian business titan Rahul Bajaj’s family builds on his legacy

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This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of India’s richest of 2022. See the full list here.

The Bajaj Group builds on the legacy left by Patriarch Rahul Bajaj, who died in February at the age of 83. The family rose to number 10 on India’s 100 richest list with their combined net worth of $14.6 billion. The rise of the storied group, which now has 40 companies in sectors such as two-wheelers, financial services and home appliances, is partly due to a solid succession plan put in place by the business titan.

The Bajaj group was founded in 1926 by Rahul’s grandfather, Jamnalal Bajaj. After graduating from Harvard Business School, Rahul returned home in 1964 to join the group, then led by his father and later uncle. The baton passed to Rahul in 1994. In 2005, he handed over the day-to-day operations of the flagship Bajaj Auto to his son Rajiv, then handed over responsibility for Bajaj Finserv and Bajaj Finance to his younger son Sanjiv.

The once close-knit clan broke up in 2008 when Rahul’s younger brother Shishir left the group, taking consumer goods and sugar businesses with him. Rahul took steps to ensure a smooth succession with the remaining faction, finalizing a family agreement that included control of the group companies.

Last year, the ailing paterfamilias resigned as chairman of Bajaj Auto, giving way to his cousin Niraj Bajaj, who is chairman of steel company Mukand. Niraj’s son, Nirav, works at Mukand while Niraj’s brothers, Shekhar, President and Managing Director of Bajaj Electricals, and Madhur, Vice President of Bajaj Auto, are other key members of the third generation.

When Rahul took a back seat, a family council of six was created and continues to meet every month or so. Fifth generation members, Rajiv’s son Rishabh and Sanjiv’s daughter Sanjali work in group companies. Says Niraj, “Family members have to prove themselves. Rahulbay think your last name does not give you special privileges. We miss him every day.

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